As the decade draws to a close, I can’t help but look back at the technological leaps we’ve managed to overcome in the past ten years. Back at the rear end of 2009, we had many memorable titles bursting onto our screens: Dragon Age Origins, Assassin’s Creed II, Borderlands, Uncharted 2, Modern Warfare 2 – most of which have become a staple of the quality and love that’s put into the art of video gaming.
Way back then, you’d have found me peeled to my treasured PS3, having only just bought one in order to wait for the prices to plummet (it was steep on launch). Filled with the wondrous worlds of LittleBigPlanet, the endless plains of Oblivion and the dense jungles of Uncharted – I didn’t think video games could get any better. Oh, poor naive 15-year-old Jack, how wrong you were.
Console wise, back in ’09 we were still in the heyday of the Nintendo Wii, the PS3, the DS and the Xbox 360. It was the precipice of Minecraft, Angry Birds and Prototype. Hell, we even had a video game tie-in to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Oh, how times flies.
Ten years on, and a lot has changed. Technological advancements have meant faster loading times, sleek, beautiful 4K graphics, snappy responses, better frame-rates and – oh – the fact that you can literally experience a video game in Virtual Reality. It’s been a wild ride, and it’s not set to slow down anytime soon…
The console giants of Sony and Microsoft aren’t set to ease up the gas, with releases for both consoles set for the end of next year. In just over a year’s time, many of us will be getting our hands on a shiny new PS5, ready to delve into the next generation of video games. But what will it have in store?
We’ve got plenty to keep us entertained until next gen rolls around, with the Final Fantasy 7 remake set to hit our screens in the first quarter of the year (hype!), along with Cyberpunk 2077, The Last of Us: Part II and Marvel’s Avengers. With another year to go until next gen, Microsoft and Sony have made sure that our Xboxs and PlayStations won’t be sat gathering dust. Far from it. This gen is going out with a bang, that’s for sure.
There’s also the slew of video games that have yet to be granted an official release date, but ones my hype is SUPER HIGH for nevertheless. Like friggin’ Elder Scrolls VI, for example! When that game drops, expect me to book a month of work and to not talk to a single soul for quite some time. I need that time in Tamriel, y’all. There’ll also be the elusive Dragon Age 4 (Dread Wolf Rises? Maybe? We shall see), which was originally put on hold to help speed up Anthem. Yelp. We’ll also be graced with the next iteration of Grand Theft Auto (London, please?) and a hopeful Kingdom Come sequel. That’s enough to get any video game fanboy’s heart racing. Next gen, come at me.
We all know what’s in store for the immediate future, then. While the launch titles obviously haven’t been announced as of yet, we’ll be sure that one of those heavy hitters will be gracing the screens of our shiny new consoles. With the PS4 having a lifespan of seven years, you can bet your bottom dollar that the PS5 will have an even longer one – taking us pretty much through the span of the entire decade. With both consoles set to be the most powerful yet, there’s going to be a jump, graphically, in terms of how pristine our games look. And I cannot wait.
The way we play is likely to change, too. With Microsoft’s next console set to feature different tiers – one which only allows you to stream video games – and Sony still cashing in on that nostalgia with PlayStation Now, streaming is set to become a prominent part of video game culture. No longer will we have to fill our hard-drives up with endless gigabytes of data, waiting endlessly for our new game to download. Nope, with a sturdy internet connection you’ll be able to play your new game pretty much straight away.
The tech advancements for next gen are already set to blow what we know out of the water, taking a leap from 4K to 8K (it’s gonna look so pretty!) and allowing developers to experiment with ray tracing tech to deliver us with sleek, seamless lighting. There’ll be a boost to audio, too, delivering a more crisp, fluid sound.
Developers expect there to be a boost in gameplay mechanics, enabling a ‘smarter’ world around the player that’ll react accordingly to their actions in the digital realm they’re exploring. In the words of Captain Marvel – video games are going to go higher, further and faster than we’ve ever seen.
There’s also an end in sight for console wars. While they’re a lot calmer than back in the PS3/360 days – it’s still rampant, and probably still always will be. Fanboys like to declare that their particular console is oh so much better than their competitors, citing skewed facts as reference. In reality, both Microsoft and Sony are serving up success after success – using the healthy competition to boost their sales.
But is the console war set to end in the next decade? Maybe. Microsoft have quietly been erasing console wars for a while, changing their brand from just a video game console to a home entertainment system, offering a Game Pass Netflix-like subscription service to allow players to play games on release, including those on PC.
While there’s always going to be exclusives for either platform, the consumer is always going to buy their tech based on personal preference – what appeals most to them – rather than because of the odd game here or there. It’s not going to happen in the next decade, but the abolishment of exclusives would be brilliant for the consumer – but alas, not so great for the business moguls.
Nintendo are still doing their own thing, as always, revelling in the success of their Nintendo Switch – a revolutionary mix of console and hand-held. I wouldn’t like to predict what they’ll do next over the course of the next ten years – but you can bet it’ll be something out of the box, in classic Nintendo style.
Multiplayer doesn’t look like it’s set to be going anywhere, either. It’s gaining popularity by the day, with Minecraft and Fortnite being staples of the online gamer lifestyle.
Even with the missteps of Fallout 76 and Star Wars Battlefront II, video game developers will (hopefully) learn from their mistakes and deliver a better, faster, bigger online experience for gamers.
While online play doesn’t appeal too much to me – I prefer to traverse my digital video games in solitude, thanks – I still appreciate it for the marvel it is. Back in the day, I’d be a pro at Modern Warfare’s online – knowing the maps inside and out – and I was weirdly obsessed with the Elder Scrolls Online for three solid months before I put it down and never picked it up again.
There’s also the leap forward in VR, pioneered by Sony. While the VR on the PS4 is an amazing experience – one that completely changes the way we play video games – it still wasn’t quite right, seeming more like a concept piece than a fully rounded product. That looks as though it’s set to change over the next ten years, though.
First of all, PSVR 2 (a clunky name, but hey, it’s literal!) is set to be wireless. Praise the Lord. No longer will it feel like a piece of tech from the late 2000s, with wires trailing all over your living room floor. Rumours say that Sony has been pumping cash into the development of the VR 2, exploring new ways to bring the experience to the next level.
There’s also ripe speculation that the head-set will allow you to attend real life events, surrounded by attendees in real-time. Can’t make it to your fave gig or sports event? If the rumours are true, soon you’ll be able to go from the comfort of your own home. It truly is mind-bending stuff.
Really, we don’t know what it’s store for the next decade in video games – only that it’s going to revolutionise how we play, experience and create them for good. Faster, better graphics. Incredible sequels. A boost to VR. The end of console wars – it’s all coming, and it’s all going to kick off with the launch of next gen.
For more on video games – check out my list of my favourite video game locations – some of them may surprise you! Or, check out my list of 11 Pokémon that deserve more love.
What do you think the future has in store for video games? Let me know in the comments below!